UPDATED: 1903 heritage home burns in VicWest

Victoria fire crews responded to a fire in the 200-block of Robert Street in Victoria West that started at around 8:40 p.m. on April 28. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)Victoria fire crews responded to a fire in the 200-block of Robert Street in Victoria West that started at around 8:40 p.m. on April 28. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
A young girl watches firefighters tackle the blaze inside the heritage home. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)A young girl watches firefighters tackle the blaze inside the heritage home. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Deputy Fire Chief Dan Atkinson of the Victoria Fire Department says as of 10:30 p.m. crews were gaining the upper hand, but the fire won’t be extinguished for several more hours. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)Deputy Fire Chief Dan Atkinson of the Victoria Fire Department says as of 10:30 p.m. crews were gaining the upper hand, but the fire won’t be extinguished for several more hours. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Victoria fire crews are working to put out a fire in the 200-block of Robert Street in Victoria West that started at around 8:40 p.m. on April 28. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)Victoria fire crews are working to put out a fire in the 200-block of Robert Street in Victoria West that started at around 8:40 p.m. on April 28. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

There is no indication a structure fire in a Vic West heritage home was suspicious, according to the Victoria Fire Department.

Late Tuesday night, crews responded to a report of a fire in the 200-block of Robert Street. The report was phoned in by a man living in the home around 8:30 p.m. Deputy Chief Dan Atkinson said the man was the only known occupant of the home and was able to make it out safely.

“Early indications are that the fire started in the back corner of the home,” Atkinson said. “The occupant was the one that discovered the fire.”

Atkinson said the investigation is still ongoing and it is premature to speculate on the cause of the fire. However, he noted there is “no indication that it was suspicious.”

Crews were still on scene monitoring and putting out any hot spots, as of Wednesday morning. Atkinson said they started to scale down operations around midnight.

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A significant amount of fuel load within the home made it difficult to battle the blaze, which had already spread by the time crews responded shortly after 8:30 p.m., Atkinson said.

When crews first arrived they attempted to fight the fire from the inside of the home on two separate occasions but were met with some “challenging conditions” which impeded their progress. Atkinson said there was a significant amount of contents within the home as well.

Neighbours told Black Press Media there was a lot of contents around the home but Atkinson said it didn’t play a role in the fire itself and that they were able to manoeuvre around the structure.

Atkinson said the loss estimate from the blaze is about $500,000.

According to the Victoria Heritage Foundation, the home was built in 1903 for $2,000. The house has a “prominent two-storey corner tower,” with large central windows and a “large, flat-topped, rectangular hipped roof,” reads the Victoria Heritage Foundation’s website.

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Atkinson said heritage designation is always a consideration and that fire crews do their best to preserve heritage infrastructure whenever possible.

“But the big piece when dealing with heritage structures is that the construction techniques and building codes were different,” Atkinson said. “It’s not uncommon to be met with more challenging conditions with respect to fire spread and propagation.”

Whether or not the man will be able to return to the home is up to structural engineers and his insurance provider, Atkinson noted.

With files from Kendra Crighton

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca

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